Lifespan Development Theory Personal Theory Term Paper

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In the classic line during the move where she yells, Run Forrest RUN!!" It is a metaphoric illustration of him leaving the stage behind in which the expectations of adults in his life is dominant and he enters the next stage of development which is the stage of expectations of others, primarily peers.

During the movie, the audience receives a clear cut example of this stage of development when Forrest spends time trying to help Jenny escape various situations and her opinion of him and his actions seem to weigh more heavily on his mind and heart than even the opinions of his beloved mother.

This become evidenced in several social scenes and retelling stories that Forrest provides to the people in the bus stop about his previous years of development.

The final stages of the development phase are also clearly portrayed and illuminated during the movie and the character of Forrest Gump.

The first time that this stage of development is seen is in the army. Before this, during the football years he is still in the stage of expectations of peers where as the peers expect him to be able to play football and the constant yelling of Run Forrest RUN! Is heard on the screen as he dashes down the football field and pleases his peers with touchdowns provides a foundation from that stage into the next one of expectation of self.

If all of the stages are successfully completed during the lifespan of childhood and adolescence, it becomes possible for the final stage to be entered.

However, if one or more of these previous stages fails for any reason the individual become stuck in that stage and it can date all the way to the infant stage of expectations of others.

One example would be the infant stage. If the infant cries for a hunger reason or a dirty diaper and that need is not met the infant cannot successfully move into the next stage and will become an adult that is needy and demanding of those around him or her in his or her adult life.

If an individual does not achieve success during the expectation of others stage in childhood that individual will become an adult who is constantly seeking the approval of others through co-dependent thoughts and behaviors.

In the case of Forrest Gump it is evidenced that he successfully passes through the various stages of infancy, childhood and adolescence and is able to move into the final step of the developmental theory of lifespan development and become self expectant.

It is during this stage that the adult begins to expect results from himself or herself and is no longer dependent on the outside world for internal validation.

This can be seen when Forrest enters the Army and performs various tasks including the completion of his tour of duty through injury and saves all of his fellow troops in the battle field however, the illustration of this stage is not finished with the military examples.

When Bubba dies and is unable to complete their dream of being shrimp boat co-owners Forrest confidently moves into the field on his own and become a financially successful owner of a shrimp company. He divides his earnings fifty-fifty with the family of Bubba and the proceeds of that partnership are sent with regularity to the family so that his family can have the good life that Bubba wanted them to have.

This final stage of lifespan development can also be seen in the way he cares for the homestead, and accepts Jenny into his life as she arrives to be with him.

The final and most touching evidence of the lifespan development stage of self expectation can be seen after Jenny passes away and Forrest is left to raise their son alone.

He does it with confidence and the self expectation that he is capable and able to do so.


The lifespan development theory of Expectations is one that builds on earlier theorist ideas.

While Erickson was on target with his eight stages of development he failed to take into account the importance of the expectations of life.

When people are born and they develop and go through their lifespan there are expectations involved.

This theory can be applied to any culture, any human society, in any location.

Even in the undeveloped nations this theory can be applied as the stages are the same regardless of life circumstances or socioeconomic levels.

In tribes across the wild the parents meet the needs of their children during the expectation of others stage, then move into the independent phases during the next phases and in the end they become self sufficient adults during the final stage of the self expectation phase.

The character of Forrest Gump is an excellent example of the strength of this theory because of the various disabilities that he had to face both mentally, and physically.

It illustrates the strength of the theory of Expectation Development because it allows the world to see it in action during a lifespan when society would normally not expect any sense of normal or average development.

It underscores the very basic scope and sequence of the theory by providing proof of its existence in a lifespan that is considered abnormal and shows the various stages being successfully completed during this time.

Throughout the movie the audience is shown the different stages that Gump passes through and that the success of the stages help build the foundation for the next stage of the theory.

As the boy becomes a teenager and the teenager becomes a man he is successful in the stages of expectations so that when he does reach adulthood he is able to successfully transfer the expectations of others to the expectations of self to his life and find success in his daily life.

The movie shows the world that the theory a can be applied to human life with littler regard to particular cultures or societies and this lends credibility to the truth of the theory itself.


Groom, Winston. (1994) Forrest Gump. Paramount Studios

Stages of Social-Emotional Development in Children and Teenagers. (Accessed 7-11-07)[continue]

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